Affirmative action was created to redress a wrong.
. . . the idea behind affirmative action is that it allows opportunities for qualified people who otherwise would have been unable to access them because of racial/ethnic reasons. Indeed, the notion is that such persons actually deserve such opportunities and will excel if given them. The counter argument to affirmative action is basically that it allows less qualified persons of color to obtain slots in schools/jobs based on unfair preferential treatment.
Here’s the problem: if Sotomayor did receive affirmative action help in getting into school (and I don’t think that we know that she did) then she is a pretty lousy example of an undeserving recipient, as she clearly took full advantage of her opportunity. Someone who graduates Summa Cum Laude from Princeton clearly deserved to be there.
As such, she would be (again, assuming she even received such a benefit) a perfect argument for affirmative action.
And, as a product of Jim Crow, I know damned well that lots of talented persons were denied lots of opportunities by the ruling majority. I saw it. And it still goes on. It’s just not so blatant as it used to be.